Word of the Year is winkelhieren, or ‘to shop here’


It emerged from a campaign to get people to shop locally, and now winkelhieren is Flanders’ Word of the Year

‘Karma’, ‘yeet’ are youth winners

The Word of the Year in Flanders is winkelhieren. The word, which means “to shop here” was coined this year by small business umbrella organisation Unizo as part of a campaign to get people to shop in their own towns.

The annual Word of the Year is up for a public vote every December, based on nominations put forward by Dutch-language dictionary publisher Van Dale. The nominations are usually words that have been concocted during the year, based on current affairs.

Other nominations this year were, for instance, klimaatspijbelaar (climate truant, or those taking part in school strikes for the climate) and egelwegel (hedgehog passages, one of the tips to help save hedgehogs in Flanders). Those came in second and third in the vote, respectively.

But one in three votes went to winkelhieren. The verb was invented by Unizo to convince people to shop locally rather than online.

We can see that American English has a major impact on language among Flemish youth

- Ruud Hendrickx

All 19 nominations for Word of the Year will appear in the digital version of Van Dale. At least temporarily.

“To become a permanent addition, the word has to be used frequently over a few years,” said VRT’s language advisor Ruud Hendrickx. “Often words disappear quite quickly out of daily use, and so also out of the dictionary.”

There is also a children’s Word of the Year and a teenager Word of the Year. The former this year is “karma”, which is having a heyday among kids in Flanders who love to sling the word at meanies or jokingly at their friends.

The latter is “yeet”, a word that has taken social media by storm. It’s been around for years, originating in basketball as an exclamation when the shooter is sure it’s a three-pointer or going to get nothing but net. It was picked up by the rest of the world when an American kid on social media used it to name a dance that went viral.

After that, “yeet” began to be known as throwing something out or down – like a slam dunk – and now it’s a general word to express delight, like “awesome” or “cool”. “Just like with the children’s word, we can see that American English has a major impact on language among Flemish youth,” said Hendrickx.

Photo: “I shop here” tote bags, handed out by Unizo